2017-10-27 / Front Page

Dogs helping dogs: Kennebunk to Puerto Rico

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

The cover to the upcoming Dogs of the Kennebunks 2018 calendar, created by local photographer Anne Watts to raise funds for Maine Buddy Up Animal Society and the Vieques Humane Society in Puerto Rico. (Courtesy photo) The cover to the upcoming Dogs of the Kennebunks 2018 calendar, created by local photographer Anne Watts to raise funds for Maine Buddy Up Animal Society and the Vieques Humane Society in Puerto Rico. (Courtesy photo) The Kennebunks area is really going to the dogs. On paper, at least.

For the second year, Kennebunk photographer Annie Watts is producing a Dogs of the Kennebunks calendar, featuring dozens of photos she’s taken of local dogs, primarily when walking her own — a five-year old potcake native to the Caribbean named Maisy — on local beaches.

The inaugural calendar raised about $6,000 for the Animal Welfare Society of West Kennebunk. However, given recent news events, this year’s 12-month canine cornucopia will give 100 percent of its proceeds to two charities — Vieques Humane Society in Puerto Rico and the Maine Buddy Up Animal Society, which helps pair adoptees with last-chance shelters.

“This is just my little way of trying to get some extra money to these organizations that need it so badly,” Watts said Monday, as she prepared the second edition of her calendar for print.

One thing Watts does not lack, is subject material.

“I’m at the beach every day, 365 days a year — snow, winter, rain, everything — with my dog, all of my friend’s dogs and all of the other dogs,” Watts said. “I always have my camera with me, or at least my phone, which also has a pretty good camera, and I’ve ended up with literally thousands of pictures of dogs. My friends encouraged me, saying ‘You really should do something with all of these beautiful photos.’”

A similar book already had been done — “Gooch’s Pooches: The Dogs of Kennebunk Beach” — including a second follow up volume issued last year. So, instead, Watts hit on the idea of a fundraising calendar.

The first edition was conceived and began selling last year, before the controversy that erupted this past March, when Gary John Fumicello began a drive to ban dogs from town beaches, citing safety and sanitation concerns. However, the calendar, like the Pooches book before it, is representative of the strong public feedback that blew up Fumicello’s proposal.

“There is an amazing community of dog lovers here,” Watts said. “You see all kinds of different people out on the beach walking their dogs and they’re all really, really great people, who meet and socialize and bond over their dogs. I’m just really, really grateful, because it helped me to meet a network of very kind people very quickly when we first moved here.”

Watts was a stockbroker for 19 years before a career switch to massage therapy 14 years ago, with a sideline in photography. Having vacationed in the Kennebunks for years, Watts relocated to Maine from Connecticut for good two years ago when her husband landed a job in Portland.

“All of my best friends that I have made since I moved here are people that I’ve met on the beach through our dogs,” Watts said.

This year’s iteration of the dogs calendar also features many photos submitted by other local dog lovers. Additionally, tributes are planned to well-known pets of the Kennebunk dog-walking community that died since the first edition came out.

“So, it’s not about just my photography. It’s about getting in as many dogs as we can, including ones that are very special and much-loved,” Watts said. “That’s why most of the photos in the calendar have been cropped right on the dog. To make space, there are no beautiful seascapes, with the ocean and the sun and the dog. It’s just dogs, dogs, dogs — dogs everywhere.

“I kind of had to let my ego go on that one,” Watts said. “This is definitely about the dogs, not me, which is good. That makes it fun for everybody and why they buy so many, because there’s a lot of dogs in it that they know and they see every day.”

The Dogs of the Kennebunk calendar retails for $15 and can be found starting in early November at the following locations, all of which, Watts said, are taking no money from the sales, allowing all proceeds to go to the two targeted charities — in Kennebunk: Boulangerie Bakery, Coffee Roasters of the Kennebunks, Kennebunk Veterinary Hospital, Mann Memorial Clinic, New Morning Health Food Store, and Reigning Cats and Dogs; and, in Kennebunkport: The Copper Candle, Cape Porpoise Kitchen, Digs Divots & Dogs, Farm and Table, Fine Prints Booksellers, KBC Shipyard Store, Make It KPT, and Zen & Company.

In addition, 36 local businesses advertised in the calendar to offset the cost of printing and production.

Watts will be at Digs Divots & Dogs during the two Saturdays of Christmas Prelude selling calendars, from 10am to 2 p.m.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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